Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
October 5, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
During campaign years, legislators take a break from sending out newsletters 30 days before a primary or general election. While this is our last e-news for a while, I’m still working hard to represent our district! To stay connected and receive updates, please follow me on my Rep. Matt Claman Facebook page, email me at Rep.Matt.Claman@akleg.gov, or contact my office at (907) 269-0130.
Anchorage Police Department Ride-Along
On Saturday, I spent the afternoon on a ride-along with Captain Sean Case of APD, learning and observing firsthand what police officers encounter every day in Anchorage. We responded to incidents related to drugs, homelessness, and homicide and met with businesses that are dealing with shoplifting. We were involved in the successful apprehension of a suspect in a homicide from the night before. And we visited the Gamble and Northway Mall Carrs stores, where the managers on duty shared the challenges they face with shoplifting. Both recognized the critical need to invest in substance abuse treatment to get individuals off the street and into treatment as a vital part of improving public safety.
My ride-along experience reminded me of our responsibility as a state to make wise use of our public safety resources and work together to improve public safety. For example, Captain Case explained the real-world value of having multiple officers available to respond to potentially violent situations because multiple officers at a confrontational situation often results in less aggression from the suspect and better public safety outcomes.
I am pleased that Mayor Berkowitz has proposed a city budget for 2019 that prioritizes police and fire academies to maintain the effectiveness of our police and fire departments.
Last month, during a panel discussion at the Alaska State Forum on Public Safety, Captain Case explained that we’ve been successful in changing and modifying our laws, and now we need to address the underlying causes of criminal activity and increase options for law enforcement. He discussed the importance of police officers having meaningful interactions and helping individuals with substance abuse problems who commit crimes to get the help they need. To do this, we must improve access to mental health and substance abuse treatment.
On Monday, Governor Walker announced an update to the Public Safety Action Plan. A key part of the plan is improving access to mental health and substance misuse treatment, including seeking federal grant funding to expand prevention, treatment, and recovery support services in Alaska. In September, Alaska received $10.4 million in federal funding to combat the opioid crisis: $8 million from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service to enhance and expand new and existing treatment and recovery support services over the next two years and $2.4 million from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention over the next year to implement Alaska-based programs and training for professionals and community providers on the front lines of the opioid and drug crisis.
I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity and participate in a ride-along to get a firsthand look at what it’s like to be a police officer in Anchorage. To fill out an application, visit: https://www.muni.org/Departments/police/Documents/Ride-along%20application.pdf.
Anchorage School District School Bond Tours
Last week, I visited six schools in our district to see school bond projects completed over the last few years. During my conversations with teachers and staff at Gladys Wood, Sand Lake, Lake Hood, Turnagain, Romig and West High, I learned about the District’s recent efforts to improve student safety. The newly completed entrances to Gladys Wood and Turnagain route all visitors through the main office before entering the hallways and classrooms. This design deters intruders from having immediate contact with students and teachers. The other schools now have door-monitoring systems that require staff to buzz visitors in.
Lake Hood Elementary Principal Aimee Kahler described the District’s challenges finding substitute teachers. She explained that it’s a regular occurrence for schools to not have a substitute for an absent teacher, which requires the school to divide the students with an absent teacher into different classrooms for that day. If you or anyone you know is interested in being a substitute, please click here to apply.
Ribbon Cutting Celebrations
Spenard Road Ribbon Cutting
On Saturday morning, I joined Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, current and former lawmakers, community council representatives, business owners, and Spenard residents for a ribbon cutting to commemorate the completion of the Spenard Road reconstruction project.
Previously a roadway with frequent safety incidents due to turning traffic and inadequate curbs and sidewalks for pedestrians, Spenard Road from Hillcrest Drive to Benson Boulevard now features 8-foot wide sidewalks, marked crosswalks, 5-foot wide bike lanes, a center left-turn lane, and off-street parking. Other additions include LED lighting, landscaping, and art features that reflect the spirit of Spenard and make the corridor more inviting and attractive for patrons and local businesses.
The project represents the Municipality of Anchorage’s continuing commitment to making all our neighborhood streets safe, welcoming, and convenient for all users—drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit passengers alike. It is also the culmination of a decades-long effort by Spenard leaders, activists, and business owners working with the Municipality’s project team to create a roadway that is beneficial for everyone.
Click here for more information about the Spenard Corridor Plan.
Sand Lake Park Outdoor Learning Lab: Ribbon Cutting
On Friday, I attended a celebration with the students of Sand Lake Elementary as they opened the Sand Lake Park Learning Lab—dreamed up and designed by students at Sand Lake Elementary School with the help of landscape architects!
The Sand Lake Park Makeover project is a partnership between Sand Lake Elementary students, Schools on Trails, the Anchorage Park Foundation, and Anchorage Parks and Recreation to improve and maintain Sand Lake Park.
This project began in 2015 when Sand Lake Elementary School decided to adopt Sand Lake Park and begin helping with garbage and deferred maintenance. In 2016, the group went through the Anchorage Park Foundation Challenge Grant process, and the learning lab gained momentum when a combination of teachers, students, and professionals were awarded a Challenge Grant in 2017.
As Sand Lake Park is located directly behind Sand Lake Elementary, it is a natural fit and partnership to encourage positive development and use of the park. The students selected this location for an outdoor learning space because of its outstanding westward view of the lake. The location is relatively flat and clear of many trees.
The teachers, staff, and students of Sand Lake Elementary have the goal to encourage and support recreational, educational, and community use of the park while supporting indigenous flora and fauna. The Learning Lab has a platform for presentations, custom handmade benches, stepping stones, a custom entrance modeled after a torii, and kanji interpretive signage.
Click here for more information about the Sand Lake Park Makeover project.
Mark your calendar for these upcoming events:
30th Annual Make It Alaska Festival
A three day celebration of everything Alaskan, the 2018 Make It Alaskan Festival promises a weekend of Alaskan food, fun, and music for the entire family. Enjoy a huge selection of locally made products, arts & crafts, clothing, housewares, and much more.
Trick or Treat Street
Trick or Treat Street is a free and fun event for families and children to trick or treat from business to business in a safe and friendly environment. This is an outdoor event. Trick or treating will be along 4th, 5th & 6th Avenues and throughout downtown. Bring the kiddos down in costume for a “Spooktacular” afternoon!
EasyPark is offering free parking at their 6th & H and 7th & G parking garages. Bring your garage ticket to EasyPark’s event table on 6th & G, for free parking all day!
When: Saturday, October 27th from 12:00 – 4:00 PM
Intervention and Structured Family Recovery Forums
Not sure how to help a loved one recover from problems with alcohol, prescription meds or street drugs? You are not alone. REAL About Addiction and Recover Alaska are proud to present Jeff and Debra Jay in three free public forums for families and community.
Jeff and Debra Jay will present a comprehensive way for family to become the centerpiece of recovery, lowering probability of relapse and creating strong family bonds. This new approach is called Structured Family Recovery—an organized and specific method for bringing the power of family and friends into the treatment and recovery process. Professional services are limited, but family is forever. By teaching families how to create their own recovery teams, they will learn how to come together as a powerful force for lasting sobriety.
More information on the Jays and their program is available at https://lovefirst.net/.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.